DID you know that veteran politician, Aaron Milner, used vulgar language against Dr Kenneth Kaunda when he fired him as home affairs minister in 1978?
(Dr Kaunda had earlier invited Aaron Milner to play golf with him at State House from 10:00 hours in the morning up to 18:00 hours before firing him around 20:00 hours).
For details, follow the excerpt below from
(Conversations with Memorable Personalities)
Home affairs was your last appointment, which year was this?
Home affairs was my last posting in 1978. That’s when Kaunda fired me.
Why were you fired?
It was the most heart-breaking incident. I used to be roving chairman of the interstate security of neigbouring countries. I used to go out with my officers like the Army commander, ZAF commander or Inspector General of Police, moving from one country to the other in the region. We used to meet as ministers to look at problems caused by South African and Zimbabwean and Angolan issues.
So there was a conference then and I was chairing the conference of ministers with their officials from these countries. Kenneth Kaunda telephoned me saying ‘young man, you have been working very hard. Can you come to State House, let’s play golf. Since your visitors are leaving, let the minister of state and your permanent secretary see them off. Let’s play golf’.
So I went to State House at 10 AM. President Kaunda and myself played golf from 10 until 4PM when we were joined by then Chief Justice Annel Silungwe and Grey Zulu. We played from 4PM to 6PM.
At 6PM as usual, we had lined up according to seniority to bid farewell to President Kenneth Kaunda who said to me, ‘you are not going’. This was usual, so I stayed on in the lounge as he went up to his room.
I sat there waiting, which was normal. I waited for one hour but President Kaunda was not coming back. I went to the private secretary and said, ‘mune [you], has the President forgotten about me?’ He said, ‘I will phone him,’ and he phoned Kaunda upstairs.
The next thing, Kenneth Kaunda comes down into the lounge with a folder under his armpit. I stood up, as usual, and said ‘Mr. President have you forgotten about me?’ He said ‘Aaron this is the saddest part of my life’. I said ‘why?’
He opened a folder and pulled out a letter to me. He said ‘sit down and read’. I couldn’t believe it. I have the letter, of course. It will feature in my memoirs.
The letter stated simply that ‘I am dismissing you as Minister of Home Affairs and thank you for the services you have rendered to this country. You have not lived up to the leadership code’.
I ‘said why’, remembering then I was not being paid a salary. As you know there was a Leadership Code. If you were running a farm, you could not be paid by the state. Your income was from farming activities. The house, the car, yes you would be given but the rest is for yourself to fend, and I was doing that.
Kaunda said ‘I understand that you have a flat in London?’ I was very vulgar to tell you the truth. I used a language that was unheard of. I was mad and I couldn’t believe this. Here is a man I have lived with all my life, thank God we have restored our long life friendship. We lived together in Chingola and throughout, we knew each other. Our families were like one family, and they still are.
I said, ‘this is nonsense, me having a flat in London? Mr. President, last month you sent my wife on a small plane to Bulawayo because my mother was ill and I couldn’t go to Bulawayo. You were very kind to have sent my wife with my little daughter to see my mother. And when my daughter came back, she said to me, ‘dad how can you keep grandma in a matchbox?’ I was so appalled because my daughter was only four years of age and she was so appalled at the living conditions of my mother in that African township.
I said ‘Kenneth I told you what my daughter had said and you allowed me later on to send a few pennies to enable my mother buy a little house, how could you say that I could buy myself a flat in London?’ He said ‘Aaron, there is a mistake, give me the letter’. I said no.
I went to Makeni and telephoned my friends, John Mwanakatwe, Alexander, Changufu and others, they all came home. They couldn’t believe it. There were tears in the house. It was like a funeral. So a delegation was sent to State House to find out what Kaunda had done. And President Kaunda said ‘that young man was planning a coup and all of you are on the list to be gotten rid of’. When they came back from State House, they were appalled at what I had [allegedly] planned to do.
I said there was no way I could do such a thing. That’s how I was thrown out. How hard and how difficult it was! A month later, he sent for me at State House. He said ‘young man, Scotland Yard, SITET and the security systems were investigating your so called property abroad and so far there is a blank’. I said but I reported to you when somebody offered me US $8 million to seal a contract…
At this point, Milner narrated in detail how he was linked to the 1980 Shamwana coup. …
An excerpt from
(Conversations with Memorable Personalities)
Aaron Milner (left) with Valentine Musakanya, the former Secretary to Cabinet as well as former Bank of Zambia Governor.